The year 2015 has been a mediocre for two of the biggest achievers India has produced in the recent times-Narendra Modi and Mahendra Singh Dhoni. It was such a pale year for both men, who looked unstoppable even a year ago, that they couldn't bag a single victory. Politics and cricket are indeed such ruthless levellers.
To speak of Narendra Modi first, the former chief minister of Gujarat became the prime minister of India following a decisive victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha election and led his party, the BJP, to perform well in a series of Assembly polls thereafter: Haryana, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and even Jammu and Kashmir. But by the turn of the year, everything looked distant memories.
BJP lost in Delhi & Bihar
The BJP suffered a humiliating loss in the Delhi Assembly polls in February 2015 in which the Aam Aadmi Party, despite an unimpressive history in power, bagged 67 out of 70 seats. In a year which had comparatively fewer number of state polls, the BJP suffered its second defeat in November, in Bihar. The party and its allies found the Nitish Kumar-Lalu Prasad tie-up too hot to handle and conceded defeat in another prestige battle after Delhi.
Local election results also didn't go BJP's way
These losses were accompanied by worrying results in local elections in other states as well. The saffron party suffered heavy losses in Uttar Pradesh panchayat polls, including in PM Modi's Lok Sabha Constituency Varanasi.
It also faced adversity in the civic polls in Modi's own state Gujarat, particularly in the rural parts where the Congress made heavy gains. Results in the urban centres saved the BJP's face but the Anandiben Patel government was left with enough questions to answer in post-Modi Gujarat. The BJP also lost the Ratlam Lok Sabha seat in the bypoll which was necessitated by the death of its MP and it went to the Congress.
Triumvirate faces questions from within
These losses ushered a gloomy chapter in the BJP's fairy tale and the new leadership started facing questions from within the party. Those who were silenced by the success of Modi within the party got the weapon they were looking for to corner the Modi-Amit Shah-Arun Jaitley triumvirate.
The yearend has also been disappointing for the BJP with the suspension of MP Kirti Azad for targeting Jaitley over the DDCA's functioning.
The controversy has refused to die down and with economic reforms getting stuck in Parliament and the next set of elections due in states where the BJP is not known to be a strong player, Modi's future will certainly be not rosy.
MSD had to concede the WC
The story has been a carbon copy for MS Dhoni as well. The man, who has been India's best captain in terms of trophies won (one T20 World Cup, one 50-over WC, one Champions' Trophy, a cup in Australia, two IPL titles), suddenly found his hands empty this year.
He quit Test cricket in Australia in December last year (may be because he didn't get equal success in the longer format or may be because he wanted to focus on the upcoming World Cup in Australia-New Zealand) but the God of the limited-over cricket showed little mercy.
The year started on a disastrous note as India lost all matches in the short tri-series involving Australia and England, the latter not being the best among the one-day sides of the world. The World Cup followed next. This tournament saw India's fortunes ending up a peculiar note. Dhoni's side went on to win seven matches on the trot upto the semi-final where it was drubbed by co-hosts and eventual champions Australia.
As soon as Dhoni conceded the defending champions' crown, the Indian media back home started treating the man and his eleven in the harshest of terms. The fact that the captain had not seen his newborn daughter for a long period as he put the national duty before everything didn't find any more compassion once India were routed by 95 runs in Sydney.
Lost in IPL final, for the third time & then to Bangladesh
Post-World Cup, Dhoni led the Chennai Super Kings in the IPL but choked against Rohit Sharma's Mumbai Indians in the final. Thereafter, he led the national team against Bangladesh on their soil for a three-match series but to the dismay of the supporters, lost the series straightaway before winning the dead third one-dayer to finish with the scoreline 1-2.
Lost home series against South Africa
The series against South Africa followed next but in that, too, India were always catching up till the fifth and final one-dayer which the visitors had put beyond their reach in the first half itself by scoring a mammoth 438. India lost that match by 214 runs and with that, the series 2-3. It was again Dhoni who was at the helm.
It is not that the year went bad for the entire team or all individual players. While Test captain Virat Kohli led the side to beat South Africa 3-0 in a 4-match series, stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane led the side to a 3-0 victory against Zimbabwe in an away series in the same year. For individuals like Rohit Sharma, Rahane and Ravichandran Ashwin, too, it was a year to be treasured. But not certainly for Dhoni, who like Modi, had little to feel proud about.
Will 2016 see a turnaround for these two big achievers?